Really enjoyed this post over on from Greg Baird called 5 Things Every Kid’s Ministry Volunteer Needs to Know. Almost 100% of it transfers over to youth ministry easily – thought I would send you that way to read it today. Here’s 3 of them to get you started:

1. They are not babysitters.
Of course, most would agree with you about this. Unfortunately, many times they don’t act like it’s true. Volunteers need to truly understand that they are here to make an eternal impact in the lives of the kids they are serving.

2. Their ministry needs to flow from their relationship with God.
Following on from #1, it’s important for our team to understand the importance of their own relationship with God. And it’s important for us, as leaders, to understand that children’s ministry isnot just about discipling children, but also about discipling our volunteers. Are you checking on the spiritual health of your individual team members?

4. Connecting with parents is critical.
Volunteers need to know that, while what they do is critically important, it’s not what will make the biggest difference in the spiritual lives of kids. What the parents do will make the biggest difference. But parents often need (and usually want) to connect with what’s happening at church in order to make the spiritual investment at home.


This week we’re focusing on leadership—specifically, the upside-down concept that to be a great leader you have to be a great follower. Yesterday we looked at Follow-Up and Following the Leader—here are two more.

Follow Jesus
We didn’t start with this one yesterday because it may have felt cliché to lead with this one—but it is the most important “following” out of all of them…hands down. Following Jesus can be easily faked, but the person who genuinely follows Jesus shines with an authenticity that is easily recognized. Be that person! If you want to be a truly great leader, make sure you follow the Leader.

Practical ways to get better at following Jesus: Find a resource that will help you spend time with Jesus every day. Download the YouVersion Bible app and pick a reading plan—be sure to set a reminder each day to give you a nudge in you haven’t marked it completed by noon.

Block out a little time for prayer before your lunch hour each day. Spend a month and only read the red letters in the gospels. Being more familiar with the ways of Jesus might actually help you follow him more closely!

Follow a mentor
Don’t risk doing youth ministry alone. You need a person who has been there before who can share wisdom with you from the journey. It doesn’t need to be someone in the exact same profession, but someone who can relate to your calling and shares some of the same passions. All great leaders have great mentors, if you want to be great be humble enough to learn from someone else today.

Practical ways to get better at following a mentor: Find a network in your area where you can gather and talk shop. Search online for a veteran youth minister in your area to help coach you. Find blogs, books, and resources that will help mentor you and push your development. Identify somebody in your congregation, from any profession, that you respect and ask them if they’d join you for coffee once in a while.

This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter. Subscribe to SYM Today right here.

Nature all around us intertwines and works together harmoniously. The birds in the air chirp, the leaves in the trees rustle as the wind gently blows as we kick and SCREAM, “Life is too HARD!” Why does everything known to nature naturally and gracefully do what they were made to do…except us, we seem to complicate everything! Imagine living in simplicity like the birds of the air, the leaves in the trees and the wind in the air; life would be, well, simple.

We take many paths in our lives that lead to complications which are better left avoided to begin with. Let’s take a look at a few of these paths.

1. I am not good enough path. As people, we are not perfect. It is time to stop thinking we are and give ourselves room for mistakes; even the mistake of complicating things. God has begun a good work in each of us and He will not give up on anyone of us. He is a faithful God; our rock.

2. Corrupted ways path. To keep it simple, we’ve got to keep it real; real to what God created us to do, to love & to do good works. It may sound like a challenge but God works in us, giving us the desire and the power to do what pleases him; we’ve just got to have the desire to do it and ask for His help.

3. Force things to happen path. If we have to force something to happen, it shouldn’t be happening. Let go and let God. As we surrender, we can trust that God is in ultimate control and He will guide us in the direction we need to be.

4. Caught up in the things of this world path. This world can be a distraction. That is why it is important to know that we are in this world but not of it. When we know this, then we also know that in order to avoid the distractions of this world, we have got to saturate ourselves with the things of God. We will begin saturating ourselves with His word, in prayer and in fellowship with other believers as we learn this truth.

While it is easy to take the I am not good enough path, the corrupted ways path and the forcing things to happen path, it is freeing to take the path God has designed for us; the straight and narrow path of life. This path does not lead us to be perfect people but it does cause us to work harmoniously with one another and in tune with God and what He has planned for us.

Ashley Fordinal is the Children’s Church volunteer at Family Life Church in Sulphur Springs, TX.

Operation Slow-Down

Josh Griffin —  May 22, 2012 — 1 Comment

It’s time for youth group to start, and I’m running around like a chicken with my head cut off, finishing last-second details. (Sound familiar?) Deep inside, I know I’m telling every young person, “I don’t have time for you.” But my to-do list beckons.

If someone naïvely dares to stop me, I nervously fidget and struggle to maintain eye contact because I’m worried about dropping the ball on the looming program. I peer over this mere mortal’s shoulder and silently freak out as the countdown to start time nears zero. I pacify the person who caused this momentary diversion with a shallow promise to connect later in the week. Although I know that probably won’t happen, I desperately need to return to the important task at hand. Just to make sure I’m not stopped again, I take out my phone, participate in a ghost call, and resume my pace.

Ouch! Enough confessional time. Here’s my new plan to conduct Operation Slow-Down:

• I will ease my pace. Walk. More. Slowly. Resist the urge to end conversations quickly and move on to the next project. I want the pace of leisure to be my default and attentiveness to be my act of generosity.

• I will dial-in the program in advance. Work hard during the week so the youth service or meeting goes off without a hitch. Don’t save last-minute details for when people are arriving. Make it a goal to be standing around, with nothing to do, 10 minutes before the first young person walks through the door. That way, you’ll be ready to fully engage with kids.

• I will care about people and the program. I’m a program person all the way. Nothing’s more exciting to me than sharing the timeless message of Christ in creative ways. Tension will always exist between presenting a top-notch service or meeting and spending time with people. But final details and adjustments shouldn’t crowd out expressions of love. Care about the program, care about the creative elements, be proud of your innovative message or creative mini-movie that you spent several late nights sweating over. But be keenly aware of the people who might need you beforehand.

Trying to outdo yourself can become a vicious cycle. So stop walking around with such urgency. Instead, overflow with love for the listeners. After all, that’s who you’re trying to reach.

Originally appeared in the May/June 2012 issue of Group Magazine. Don’t get the magazine yet? Hit this link to subscribe and get in on the action today!

Weekend Teaching Series:  Brainwashed (series premiere, week 1 of 3)
Sermon in a Sentence: Christians are brainwashed into thinking that living in the gray are (between walking in light and walking in darkness) is OK.

Service Length: 67 minutes

Understandable Message: This weekend we kicked off a new series that I am really excited about! I always like a strong series right out of the gate post-Easter and post-You Own the Weekend annual series – Brainwashed is it! This weekend I wanted to introduce the concept of brainwashed in our culture and begin to explain several of the ways that we live brainwashed as Christians. This weekend I choose to talk about walking in the light and walking in darkness – these concepts are familiar to our students since we often teach on God’s Way vs. World’s Way. This was fun though since that felt predicable, I was able to turn a corner and surprise them by challenging them to not live in the gray with one foot into church/Jesus/faith and the rest of their bodies out. I stole an illustration from Doug Fields’ blog last week that was really strong, too – and also opened with a video of a guy who wasn’t brainwashed but certainly lost his mind over Cheesedoodles.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: This weekend we rolled out a ton of new stuff! We expanded our volunteers on the weekend and assigned each of them “zones” to work before, during and after services. We had free bagels and cream cheese on Sunday morning between services to “slow down” students into conversation and connections rather than just in and out of church. Over Spring Break we added a few IKEA couches to the hall entering the youth room that got a solid workout. The grow booth now has a gift for 1st time students who let us know they were there. Tons of students involved in every area of the weekend. Summer camp registration opened. Hilarious videos – a Hunger Games promo video for camp, a Spring Break Serve Week highlight video and a parody of spoken word to promote Killball.

Music Playlist: Yours Forever, Freedom is Here, Grace/The Stand, Your Love is Enough

Favorite Moment: There were too many great things to have a favorite this weekend – but the Hunger Game promo video had to probably be in the top spot. I loved SO many things about this weekend, I could go on and on! Oh, and one more thing: I think it is possible to have a GREAT program and a huge emphasis on RELATIONSHIPS. This weekend was another big step to doing both really well for us!

Up next: Brainwashed (week 2 of 3)

Over the past 15 years (and 3 weeks) that I’ve been in full-time ministry I’ve made more than my fair share of mistakes. I’ve made so many I’m currently pitching a book called Youth Ministry Nightmares where I talk about the stories surrounding my biggest leadership gaffs.

While these aren’t nightmares, they are some mistakes I’ve made in the not-so-recent past:

Neglecting rookie volunteers
There is one group of leaders in your ministry that need you more than anyone else: the newbies. My mistake in the past was to concentrate on launching and not sustaining. The more time you take to make rookie leaders great the more you will retain and the better (and faster) experienced veterans they will become.

Not changing your leadership style to fit your team
When my volunteer team was all my close friends, I could manage relationally and we were overflowing with trust and history. As teams change, and you encourage outsiders to join your team, make sure you adjust to the people God has given you. Make history with them. Design activities to build trust. Make sure they are fully trained and equipped.

Falling in love with youth ministry more than Jesus
From time to time I have found myself in an unhealthy tension–choosing to love youth ministry more than Jesus. Loving what I do instead of who I do it for. It doesn’t take long in a season of discouragement to reveal which way you have erred.

Hope my mistakes help you be a better youth worker! Share your mistakes in the comments, too!

This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter. Subscribe to SYM Today right here.

A couple weeks back at our State of HSM annual meeting I shared a few things that I believe that make a good team great. Thought I would share them with you as well!

We all share a common, unifying vision in our high school ministry – seeing students on the outside of faith meet Him face to face (evangelism) and their lives be changed forever. And for those that have trusted Christ to be connected (fellowship), grow (discipleship), serve (ministry) and honor (worship) Christ deeper now and into adulthood. The clear vision helps bring a team of like-minded and passionate people together. If someone is out of line, the vision brings them back into the unity of the common vision.

This year our team is going to unify by learning together. We’re going to go to a conference together – the Simply Youth Ministry Conference this March – come hang with us! We’re going to go back to the basics and read Doug Fields’ 1st 2 Years in Youth Ministry together and have some discussions about our experiences and how we can grow together as youth workers. Youth pastors must keep learning and moving forward.

It is so important to laugh together. I want us to play together. Have inside jokes. To dig a deep well of relationship that bond us together and make us quick to forgive and trust when hit with the unexpected.

Dependent on God/Prayer
Your walk with Jesus is critically important. This season we’re all reading the New Testament together. We’re trying to make sure our walk with Jesus is more visible and something we talk about as easily as we would Sherlock Holmes or the new Coldplay album (both of which are excellent by the way). Your walk with Jesus is person, but it is also communal. As a team we need to strive to e


Our friends at youthministry360 and I wanted to do something special for all of the More Than Dodgeball Community. So, ym360 has created these awesome Christmas Devotions For Youth Workers, and wanted to release them here first!

The best part? They’re totally FREE! These devotions feature 7 days worth of daily content. Each day focuses on one of the main characters from the Christmas Story. Each character has a key attribute or characteristic that comes from the text. And each day, you’ll be challenged to consider how you might apply this characteristic in you life, and in the lives of your students as you lead them closer to Christ.

It’s just a simple way for youthministry360 and us to say, “Thanks”! We’re in awe of the amazing work you do in teenagers’ lives.

To download your FREE Christmas Devotions, click on this link.

(If you have any trouble at all with your download, the folks over at youthministry360 are available to help, anytime. Simply email them at and they’ll be more than happy to help out.)